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Anarchy Arcade
June 22 - SM Sith Lord

Prototype users, rejoice! This patch will fix some major bugs that have arisen recently in the retired prototype.

[www.smarcade.net]

Head to the GameJolt profile to grab the update.[gamejolt.com]

The source code of the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade is a completely different branch than the prototype, so going back to update the prototype is not something I do very lightly. However, the way that the prototype was designed (in a quick & rugged fashion) makes it susceptible to serious bugs if a web server it depends on changes its address or functionality.

In contrast, the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade is resistant to these types of follies. It has superior error handling that minimizes the effect of any problems that DO occur, and it implements all web server logic as add-on scripts that can be easily swapped out or updated when needed.

The prototype had the following symptoms:

  1. Steam game cabinets would spawn with broken screen & marquee images.
  2. Netflix movies would fail to spawn altogether.
  3. Hulu video previews would fail to playback on the in-game screens.


Issue 1
One issue with the prototype is that some of the web server scrapers, such as the Steam games info scraper, are hard-coded into the executable. This means that when they do break, it requires a major client update that everybody has to manually download & install. That's why this maintenance update is required today; Steam changed the address of the server used for game header images & screenshots. As a result, the prototype got confused and made it nearly impossible to launch your Steam games at all. This maintenance update resolves the Steam images issue.

Issue 1.5
Ideally, the Steam image server changing its address shouldn't have stopped you from being able to launch your cabinets, but unfortunately this was the case in the prototype. Again, this folly was due to the quick & rugged fashion that the prototype was developed in. The prototype has little to no error-handling, meaning that if something goes wrong, it ALL goes wrong. This is another area that the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade excels in.

The Steam version's error handling is prepared for all sorts of failures at any stage of the process because it is designed for user-created addon scripts. Not only can it handle errors, but it also filters out any malicious commands that an evil user might try to take advantage of. It is able to detect problems and use fallback settings so that you'll always be able to at least get a default shortcut to your file spawned in your arcade, even if all hell breaks loose.


Issue 2
The prototype's issue with Netflix was due in part to the poor error handling, but was also due to an incompatibility with an all-new image format that is emerging on the internet. The new format is developed by Google and called WebP. It is actually superior than many other popular image formats in its optimization and compression, which makes it ideal for mobile-ready websites.

The problem is that Google's competitors are naturally apprehensive to add support for an image format that is controlled by Google. This means that pretty much the only browser that supports the WebP image format at this time is Google's own web browser, Chrome, and the framework it is based on.

Once again, this is a problem that only affects the prototype. To patch it, this maintainance update no longer tries to use the WebP DVD covers from Netflix. It tries to find a DVD cover from TheMovieDb to use instead. In the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade, the WebP image format will actually be fully supported, but it will still grab good ol' JPEG DVD covers from TheMovieDb so that your cabinets will be easier to share with your friends in standard web browsers.


Issue 3
The prototype's issue with Hulu is right along the same lines as the Steam images issue; the web address to embed Hulu videos changed and caused the in-game playback of them to fail. This one was easy to fix in the prototype, I just had to update the address in the Hulu scraper. When you spawn new Hulu videos, they will now be visible on the in-game screens when you select them; just like before.

Emulator Support Expanded
Some multi-system emulators require you to pass them a game TYPE for them to be able to automatically load your game. This functionality has been added to the prototype and allows for complex emulators that require this launch command parameter, such as MESS, to be function with the prototype. If you're one of the people who like to create your own emulator scripts for the prototype, the keyword for this new command line parameter is $TYPE. Just include that in your launch commands where ever you want the TYPE of the item to be inserted.

Changes in version 2.2g:
  • Fixed the Steam game scraper.
  • Updated addresses of Steam image sources to reflect the new CDN.
  • Fixed the Netflix scraper.
  • Removed marquee images from the Netflix scraper.
  • Fixed the Hulu scraper.
  • Updated the address that the Hulu scraper uses for in-game previews.
  • Fixed slave marquees showing up as purple/black checkers.
  • Removed the ability to set marquees as slaves.
  • Added the keyword $TYPE to insert an item's TYPE into it's launch command.
  • Added support for emulators that require a TYPE when launching (such as MESS).

Follow Anarchy Arcade
As always, development on the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade continues. If you need to catch up on some of the most recent news, you can check out this article on how plugins work in the Steam version. You can also follow @AnarchyArcade on Twitter to be notified of all news such as updates, live streams, or just random fun.

Party on!

June 16 - SM Sith Lord

This is a transcript of a video blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0FyjnRonrc

What's up my virtual maniacs, it's SM Sith Lord coming at you again with a development update on Anarchy Arcade. I've got a lot to tell you, so let's make it quick.

[www.smarcade.net]

Anarchy Arcade is more useful than just a desktop. It shows you more than just a 3D file icon.

[www.smarcade.net]

For example, if you spawn a shortcut to "Banjo Kazoie", in Anarchy Arcade it's going to have boxart, a screenshot, and a YouTube trailer all on its 3D cabinet.

These additional images and videos come from 3rd party services such as YouTube, Flickr, Netflix, or the Steam Store itself. Anarchy Arcade runs independently of all these services, but utilizes them as plug-in scripts.

[www.smarcade.net]

Plug-in scripts can be created for any website or service. Working together, they turn each one of your boring desktop shortcut into a media-rich virtual entertainment center.

[www.smarcade.net]

Anarchy Arcade is powered by the same framework as the Google Chrome web browser itself. It's so similar, that Anarchy Arcade's plugins can be used as Google Chrome extensions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0FyjnRonrc

What you're looking at is Anarchy Arcade turning this web page into a 3D arcade cabinet right before your eyes. And it's doing it all on this nifty little interface that lets me cycle through the different images by clicking on the arrow buttons.

The images themselves are taken from the web page I'm looking at, as well as other services all powered by plug-in scripts.

This functionality goes DEEP. I won't get into it right now, but let's just say this is not the last time you'll hear about these plugins.

By now you've probably heard that the Kickstarter has failed to reach its funding goal. This means that I will NOT be able to license Anarchy Arcade as a retail game. It also means that I will not be able to pay myself for developing it.

However, Anarchy Arcade WILL be available through Steam, free of charge, later this year. Please use the PayPal link and make a donation towards Anarchy Arcade's development today!

May 4 - SM Sith Lord

This is the latest Dev Blog. Most of the work being done on the new Steam version of Anarchy Arcade is all behind-the-scenes stuff, so there are no flashy screenshots to show. Instead, I am doing weekly blog posts that describe the types of technical work that is going on. Later on when Anarchy Arcade's Steam version reaches a playable state, I will be posting full media-rich updates once again. You can see previous Dev Blogs here[blog.smsithlord.com].

Week 7

This week I optimized the back-end AArcade JavaScript API and the thumbnail image loading system. The image loading system is just one of the many systems that use the AArcade JavaScript API to power their functionality. Making sure that the Chromium core and the AArcade JavaScript API are robust enough to handle everything that they are going to be used for is vital at this stage of development to ensure that all goes smoothly later on.

There are several different locations that each 3D shortcut might use to load artwork images to use to decorate its in-game cabinet. These include web-based HTTP addresses, or local image file locations. One of the new features worked into Anarchy Arcade's brand new image loading system this week was the ability to detect when an image fails to load, and attempt to use alternate image locations accordingly.

Even at this early stage, everything that is implemented into Anarchy Arcade has multiplayer in mind. This past week I tied the image loading system into the multiplayer item syncing system, so now the images that are being loaded and displayed on the cabinet models are calculated directly from the attributes of the 3D shortcuts themselves. This is a huge step towards getting the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade to the type of functionality seen in the prototype.

All of the work over the past few weeks has been towards the ultimate goal of being able to implement the data scraping system that powers all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into turning a boring standard desktop shortcut into a HD media-rich 3D shortcut. It is also what powers all of the 3D Web features of Anarchy Arcade and is vital for implementing HUBs. The data scraping features of Anarchy Arcade are responsible for a majority of the automation that is seen in the prototype as well as the amazing new features built into the Steam version's design.

The web data scraping system will be built on top of the AArcade JavaScript API, so next week as I continue to implement the core functionality of Anarchy Arcade I will be programming in the foundation of the web data scraping system and expanding the AArcade JavaScript API. All of this will be done in such a way to accommodate HUBs, multiplayer, and all of the other systems that are deeply connected to how web data scraping will behave.

On Wednesday, I will be hosting a live video stream using the prototype (which is still publicly supported even though it does not receive updates anymore). There will be live chat too, so if you have any questions about Anarchy Arcade or the prototype, be sure to "tune-in" to www.twitch.tv/AnarchyArcade on Wednesdays between noon and midnight to participate.

April 13 - SM Sith Lord

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of the people who pledged to the Kickstarter or donated via PayPal. Over $3,000 was pledged by only 60 backers, with the campaign concluding later tonight. Your pledges will be automatically returned because the Kickstarter failed to reach its funding goal, but your show of support will not be forgotten.

You probably have a lot of questions about the Steam version of Anarchy Arcade, the Kickstarter's failure, and the future for the project. In today's article I will address these concerns.

Once again this article was a bit too long to post here on Steam, so please take a look at it on the Kickstarter page.

April 8 - SM Sith Lord

Prototype Updated to Version 2.2f

Download the prototype from the GameJolt profile[gamejolt.com].

Yesterday I coded in two new parsers to the prototype to demonstrate some of the features I discussed in my previous update. They include the ability to spawn an entire YouTube channel (or playlist) into an arcade at once, and also the ability to display your unlocked Steam Trading Cards for all of your different Steam games.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EL5l5dKWZY

The beauty of Anarchy Arcade's design is its simplicity. Even in the prototype, every single item you see is a standard Anarchy Arcade shortcut.

In the Steam version, you will earn in-game rewards every time you do well playing one of your other games. You'll get points for unlocking cards and achievements, etc. All of the technology demonstrated here will be tied into your Steam profile to consolidate all of your media & gaming career into this immersive 3D multiplayer desktop.

Also in this update, I have fixed an issue with over-the-shoulder spectating. It will work properly now in Multiplayer servers.

Giving Away 1 FREE Game EVERY Hour for 24 hours!

Tomorrow, starting at midnight in just 4 short hours, I will be doing another 24 hour Anarchy Arcade live broadcast where I give away 1 free Steam game every hour. If you're interested in seeing Anarchy Arcade in action, getting some free games, or just having a good time in general, check out the Twitch stream at http://www.twitch.tv/AnarchyArcade. See you there!

Less Than 5 Days Left on Kickstarter

There are only a few short days before the Kickstarter campaign concludes, so now's the time to head on over to the Kickstarter and make a memorable contribution to Anarchy Arcade!

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